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    All the Stuff I Can't Let Go

    The other week, I was going through my old stuff -- boxes and boxes of them. I found the autograph book I bought when I was in sixth grade. I found old letters, cards and notebooks. I found old books and old school uniforms. I found many other things. If it were only easy, I would throw all the stuff in those boxes so I could have more room in my bedroom. But I refuse to throw away old stuff.

    While writing this, I'm wearing a very old shirt -- full of holes, the colors have faded, and the cloth has thinned. It is a shirt back when I was only 13. Let's see...that's 12 years ago. Why do I wear it when I have many perfectly good shirts in my closet? Why, whenever I find out that my mother has put it in the box labelled "Throw-aways," I take it out and put it back in my closet and wear it more often than I would all the other new shirts combined?

    Like me, you might have things you still keep with you even though you can easily discard them. The thing is, many of us have difficulty letting go of things that have outlived their usefulness. So why do you keep them? Often times, we keep things to remind us of an event, or an experience/situation we've been in.

    If you look at all the old stuff you have -- stuff you couldn't bear to throw away -- you'll see that exploring your reasons for not throwing them away can help you come up with materials for writing.

    And to help you "unearth" these materials for writing, you can use many creative writing techniques. One of these techniques is brainstorming.

    Brainstorming is a tool used for problem solving. Like freewriting, brainstorming doesn't require you to be too logical with the solutions you come up with.

    In creative writing, when you are given a prompt question that needs to be addressed, you give solutions to it, no matter how weird or wild these solutions are.

    For example: How do you fix a picture frame that keeps falling off the wall?

    • Nail all its four corners to the wall.
    • Buy super glue and glue it on the wall.
    • Chew lots of gum and use that if super glue is not available.
    • Dig a hole on the wall the size of the frame and stick the frame in that hole.
    • Have someone hold the frame.
    • Stack books against the wall and put the frame on top of the stack.

    Brainstorming, like listing, helps you come up with creative ideas you can use to craft a poem, essay or story.

    After brainstorming and listing, freewriting is usually the next technique used.

    Here are some prompts for you to brainstorm:

    • Uses for your refrigerator (except storing food)
    • What your old socks are good for
    • Paper clips can be used for...
    • Things you can stick a stamp on (except letters)
    • Uses for old decks of cards
    • Anything you can come up with based on the things you find in your closet, under your bed, your garage, or refrigerator that you haven't thrown away.

    [The above article is an excerpt from the SKETCHES: Creative Writing from Every Day Living. To receive your free copy of this mini-module for free, send a blank email to]

    Copyright © 2001 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

    Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ creates and teaches free e-mail courses for writers at Sign up for a class today.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ

    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

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    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)


    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

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